Every day since I arrived at Illinois last October I have seen something new and amazing--in classrooms, labs, and here on the Quad. This is a place that attracts people who believe that together we will make the world better.
This foundation of optimism and expectation comes from our people. You are the heart and the spirit of the campus today, building on a legacy that began in 1867. Our faculty, staff, students and alumni are among the nation’s best, and together, we continue to further the Illinois tradition of excellence in learning, discovery and engagement.
And we’re preparing for the challenges of this century and the next. The hundreds of ideas you have shared in the visioning workshops and during my Listening and Learning Tour will be crucial in preparing for a successful future. Our campus is focused on applying our strengths to the world’s fast-approaching critical issues. Illinois will be ready and our students will be ready to lead.
The end of this academic year is exciting, but bittersweet. I want to note that we are losing many faculty and staff to retirement. We will praise their contributions to our excellence but will also miss their institutional knowledge. Their departure means we will welcome many new people to our campus. Each one offers a unique perspective and we welcome new ideas.
To our students, 7,000 of you are graduating and starting the next chapter of your lives. I wish you the very best and I ask for your continued involvement with the campus. We still need your advice, your energy, and your support as loyal alumni.
Here is my advice to the Class of 2012, all continuing undergraduates and graduate students, and to our entire campus community:
Embrace each and every opportunity that comes your way. Embrace change. Be bold in your ambitions. Be modest in your successes. Be kind in your relationships. Be charitable in your community.
Give generously of your time. Give generously of your experience and your ideas. Give generously of your intellect. Give generously of your heart. Give generously with dedication, with conviction, with energy, with grace, with panache, with humility. Pay it forward.
Live from your heart, be courageous and live a life true to yourself. Express your feelings, work hard, but not at the expense of your friends and family and not at the expense of having a life. It is important to save time for yourself so that you continue to develop and learn from the people around you who inspire you, who energize you, who live the way you aspire to live.
Congratulations to everyone on a successful year and best wishes for a great summer. Thank you so much for opening your campus to me and for helping me learn what it really means to be an Illini. You’ve taught me that together, We Are Illinois.
Have a terrific summer,
Around the Campus: Join me in congratulating four of our students who have been awarded a U.S. Department of State Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study critical languages during the summer of 2012. They will study those languages in a host country in which the native language is spoken providing an even richer experience. Andrew Dolinar will study Russian; Dana Fager will study Japanese; Jeffrey Harmon will study Chinese; and Zachery Sell will study Hindi in India. According to the State Department, “These students are among the approximately 575 U.S. undergraduate and graduate students who received a scholarship from the U.S. Department of State’s CLS Program in 2012…The CLS Program is part of a U.S. government effort to expand dramatically the number of Americans studying and mastering critical foreign languages.”… Please mark your calendar for the second speaker in our Research University in the World of the Future series. Wei Yang, the president of China’s Zhejiang University, will be our keynote speaker on May 31.